A discovery by Professor of Jewish History Richard Freund is attracting attention from media outlets around the world. Freund and an international team of archaeologists recently found a 100-foot-long underground tunnel made by 80 Jews who attempted a courageous escape from the extermination pits at Paneriai, Lithuania in 1944. Only 11 prisoners lived to tell the story of digging for 76 nights using only their hands, spoons and crude handmade tools. Although the location of the tunnel's entrance was known, the exact site of the escape tunnel, located near the city of Vilnius, remained a mystery until early June.
Calling it one of the “great Jewish escapes” of the Holocaust, Freund, who also is director of the University’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, likens the discovery to finding a very well-known needle in a haystack. Using noninvasive archaeological methods to protect the sanctity of the resting places of the approximately 100,000 people buried there, Freund and the team found the tunnel, as well as previously unknown burial pits in the forest adjacent to the site.
The story of this discovery appeared in hundreds of news outlets around the world. At one point, it was trending on Facebook and was featured on the Yahoo! homepage. Following is sampling of this extensive coverage:
Wednesday, July 29:
"Israel: Dug By Jews, Tunnel From Nazi Era Found in Lithuania"
THE NEW YORK TIMES
U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT
THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Thursday, June 30
Friday, July 1
Saturday, July 2